By Tina Shaygan, October 19 2017 —
Students at the University of Calgary can look forward to a week-long fall reading break starting in 2018, according to Students’ Union vice-president academic Tina Miller.
“We’re working to improve the mental well-being of students,” Miller said. “One of those steps is to give students the chance to take that mental breather and to have the chance to study and catch up on assignments.”
In order to accommodate a full-week break, orientation for new students is being reduced to two days, while block week is being moved to late August. Miller added that in the most recent annual SU survey, 76 per cent of students said they would support a full-week break in the fall.
Second-year engineering student and previous orientation leader Ahsen Imran said he supports reducing orientation days for a full-week break in the fall.
“What I did notice was that some students, they attend completely the whole day for the first two days, and after it gets less and less,” he said. “Most students just want to take the last few days for themselves just to see university.
Third-year Haskayne student Diana Shi added that she also supports a full-week fall break after her experiences at the University of Alberta.
“I found the whole week really useful. It really allowed you to de-stress, catch up, you know. Kind of re-centre yourself,” Shi said.
At Mount Royal University, fall reading break has been moved to October instead of November in order to accommodate a full-week break. MRU students had a break Oct. 10–13 this year for the first time,
Students’ Association of MRU vice-president academic Cordelia Snowdon said the idea of a full-week break has been around for awhile as SAMRU worked on finding dates that worked with instructional days. She said there was a lot of support for a full-week break from both MRU students and faculty.
“With how the calendar falls, October was the easiest to accommodate,” Snowdon said. “It is similar to the winter break if you’re not counting exam days. It’s pretty much in line with it.”
Snowdon added that MRU students will now start classes on the first Tuesday of September. She also said that she will be looking for feedback as this is the first year an October full-week break has been implemented, but that she has already heard positive stories regarding its impact.
“It was beneficial to deal with a lot of higher-level issues. So, not just getting caught up with courses but also applying for grad school, other things,” she said. “I heard from academic advisors that students were able to plan meetings so they could plan out their courses and find out more information. It really offered people a chance to take care of some of those issues.”
Both MRU and the U of C are also experimenting with changing the name of reading breaks.
“Calling it a reading break, people assume it’s just for homework,” Snowdon said. “I’m getting feedback on how the term impacts the use of it.”